Game no. 82 out of 82 is tonight in Washington. It, unfortunately, will not be the showdown for the Metro Division title everyone hoped it would be. But on this day, the last day of the regular season, we must appreciate that that was even a legitimate hope, one that was only made impossible in game no. 81 by a Capitals victory. Most of us, and most of the hockey world, thought we would be toast well before now. I certainly didn’t think April games would be meaningful — hell, I didn’t think March games would be all that meaningful for the Islanders this season — but we can all agree we’re happy to be wrong there.
Tonight’s game is still meaningful for the Islanders, too. Earning at least a point ensures the Penguins can’t catch them for second place, even if they beat the Rangers tonight. And that would mean home-ice advantage in a series for the first time since 1988. Hopefully, the Caps decide to rest a few starters. (UPDATE: They will allow John Carlson, T.J. Oshie, and Nicklas Backstrom to rest tonight, and backup goalie Pheonix Copley will play the entire game instead of Braden Holtby.)
Whether they do or not, iIt would still be wise for the Islanders to go pretty hard in this game. They can finish no worse than third, but starting out at the Coliseum would be a blast, and should this thing go to Game 7, the Islanders would be home for it.
- They’re certainly seeking out home-ice tonight. Coach Barry Trotz is quick to say they don’t have a problem starting on the road, but he and the players agree they want to do it for the fans. [Newsday]
- MORE UPDATES: Valtteri Filppula will be available for the start of the playoffs — in fact, he should be ready for tonight’s game in Washington. No word on who comes out for him. [Newsday]
- It will be the 25th Stanley Cup Playoffs appearance throughout the 47-year history of the New York Islanders. Here’s how Andrew Gross ranked the first 24 appearances. [Newsday]
- The Islanders may use two goalies throughout the playoffs this season, but they’re not the only playoff team that relied on a platoon this season. Five other teams in the postseason used a regular rotation of goalies during the regular season this year and could continue to do so. [NHL]
- The Sound Tigers are playing the Providence Bruins in a home-and-home set this weekend, and Bridgeport entered last night’s game with a chance to clinch their berth to the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs. [Sound Tigers]
- They scored six goals last night, so the offense was there, but they still lost 8-6 in Providence. Grant Hutton and Bobo Carpenter got their first professional goals and Otto Koivula had two goals. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins also beat the Binghamton Senators to prevent the Sound Tigers from clinching. They’ll try again tonight in Bridgeport. [Sound Tigers | CT Post]
- The Railers were officially eliminated from playoff contention tonight by a 4-2 loss to the Maine Mariners in their 14th meeting this season. 14 meetings can foster some bad blood, and the game ended with an ugly brawl after the Mariners’ Brycen Martin viciously cross-checked Railers captain Mike Cornell after the final horn sounded. [RailersHC]
- Stan Fischler picks up where he left off last week and tells the tale of how the 1980 Islanders ultimately conquered the Big Bad Bruins in the second round, and how they felt their team was truly different than it was during its famous playoff flame-outs the two years prior. [Maven’s Memories]
Last night’s NHL scores include the Columbus Blue Jackets trailing almost the whole game 1-0 to the Rangers before finally solving Alexandar Georgiev in the third. They then took the lead with 5 minutes left to excite their fans, only to blow that lead with 7 seconds left in regulation and give some life back to the Canadiens, temporarily. That would end when, after the shootout, Columbus was victorious and clinched the final playoff spot in the NHL.
- The participants are known; who they play will be determined today. The Central Division winner has yet to be decided, but the Predators are in the driver’s seat. They clinch it with a win tonight against the Blackhawks. The Jets and Blues can still make it interesting, though. [NHL]
- Steve Yzerman is famous for his long and storied NHL playing career as captain of the Red Wings. More recently, he’s known for building what, at this point, has to be considered one of the top teams in NHL regular season history in the 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning, though he took a step back this season from the GM role, and he’s eligible to move on from Tampa this summer. The Rangers may be able to persuade him to take over for the outgoing president, Glen Sather. [NY Post]
- The Hurricanes went 10 seasons without making the playoffs, going back to 2008-09. Now, they’re going back and the fans that have waited this long for it happen have some great stories about the end of the drought. [Canes Country]
- Unfortunately, they will be wearing their black jerseys at home for the duration of their playoff run. They seem to do better in them, and it’s rumored their owner doesn’t like the red jerseys, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them follow the paths of the Penguins and Oilers by wearing their alternates throughout the playoffs and converting them to their primary jerseys the following season. [Canes Country]
- Ivan Provorov was a highly-touted defenseman for the Flyers coming into the season, but he had a rather disappointing season. [BSH]